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Relationships with ourselves ... some ideas from Cognitive Analytic Therapy..

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

The relationship you have with yourself is often the most complicated because you can’t walk away from you, you have to forgive every mistake, and deal with every flaw. You have to find a way to both accept and love yourself.

When we think about ourselves in relationships, we often focus on our external relationships with other people and don’t always pay as much attention to our internal relationship with our self.

Cognitive Analytic Therapy helps us explore our private self as well as our public self. It helps us think about the different ‘parts’ of ourselves how we may try to project a perfect or idealised self, and judge our self harshly when we don’t always meet our own high (and often unrealistic) expectations.

When thinking about how we relate to ourselves it can be helpful to link feelings, ways of thinking and behaving to our relationship with our private self. Our self to self-experiences can lead to problematic patterns (wearing a mask and self-criticism are two examples) as well as useful ones like self-compassion, mindfulness and self care.

There may be parts of ourselves that we feel are too painful or emotionally overwhelming to face. As a consequence, we may work hard to avoid or emotionally disconnect from the parts that we feel bad or shameful about. It’s as if we feel those parts shouldn’t exist and we try hard to keep them hidden. We try and convince ourselves they don’t exist but they never really go away until we find the courage to confront them

Therapy can be a useful space to explore and be curious about both the origins of and the functions of the different parts of ourselves.

If our different parts can become more connected then they can both integrate and communicate more openly with each other, moderating and softening each other in the process and leading us towards a relationship with ourselves of greater self-compassion strength and acceptance.

by Amanda Copeland


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